Tips for Eating a Bone-Healthy Diet

Make everyday meals more bone-friendly with these simple—yet nutritious and delicious—suggestions.

Health Monitor Staff
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When someone you love has osteoporosis, a healthy, bone-building diet is critical. But dairy products aren’t the only foods that do bones good—a multitude of vitamins and minerals play a role. Try making mealtime more bone-friendly with by trying these strategies.

Go a little nuts. Half of your body’s magnesium is found in bone; it helps keep them strong. Make a trail mix snack packed with magnesium by combining almonds, cashews, dry roasted peanuts, sunflower seeds, wheat bran cereal flakes, chocolate chips and raisins. Or enjoy another magnesium powerhouse—peanut butter—on whole-wheat crackers or bread with a side of skim milk.

Spruce up your salads. Salads are already a healthy choice. Make them even better for your bones by tossing calcium-rich leafy greens like spinach and kale with slivered almonds (they’re chock-full of calcium and magnesium), low-fat cheese, potassium-rich avocado slices and bamboo shoots, and canned tuna and hard-boiled eggs (those last two provide protein and vitamin D).

Shake things up. Whip up a calcium-rich smoothie using a combination of fortified milk, soymilk, tofu, yogurt or fortified orange juice. Throw in strawberries, papaya and oranges (their vitamin C helps collagen production, which provides the structure for bones) and cantaloupe and mangoes (their vitamin A helps with bone growth). Or create a yogurt parfait layered with fresh fruit.

Go fish. Fish has a great reputation for boosting heart and brain health, but it’s also swimming with bone-building nutrients like calcium, protein, zinc, and vitamins A, B12 and D. Your best choices are fresh oysters, salmon, halibut and shrimp, as well as canned salmon, sardines and tuna. Aim for two servings every week.

Enjoy breakfast all day. Don’t relegate bone-boosting foods like fortified cereals, oatmeal, yogurt, eggs, cottage cheese, milk and orange juice to only mornings. Cook up an omelet with low-fat cheddar cheese, sautéed spinach and salmon for lunch or dinner. Between meals, have a bowl of cereal, a cup of yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit, or a hard-boiled egg and a glass of fortified OJ.

Treat yourself. Goodies (in moderation, of course) can delight taste buds while strengthening bones. Enjoy chocolate milk, hot cocoa made with milk, frozen yogurt, pudding, ice cream and fresh fruit topped with whipped cream. Search store aisles to find cookies, crackers, granola bars and other treats fortified with calcium.

June 2011